For most skaters, the VX1000 is the only camera that matters. Today, 20 years after the camera was made, skaters still seek out this relic of skateboarding’s golden age to make their videos seem more raw and legit than anything filmed in HD. You already knew the VX was responsible for your favorite skate videos, but did you also know it helped create your favorite style of porn?

The VX’s introduction to porn was a game changer for many pornographers. John Stagliano, also known as Buttman, was famous for filming POV style or gonzo porn, and we’d heard he captured some of his most epic money shots on the VX. Buttman left a deep imprint on the porn industry as a director, filmer, and star, so we talked with him to see how the VX changed porn in the 90s and how newer tech is still changing it today.

What were your first thoughts about the VX1000 when it came out? What porn films did you produce with it?
It was way better quality, and it allowed me more flexibility and speed to move around and set up the dialogue. With the quality and ease of use, people who had been actors could shoot and people who had good ideas could shoot. So you had people who were into porn shooting porn. I shot my movie Buda with that little camera. It was a bigger budget thing I shot over a couple weeks in Budapest, and it actually won best video.

People in skateboarding like the sound of a VX1000 because the mic is very high quality. How important is that in porn?
I liked the mic on the VX1000 because it was more omnidirectional, which was way better for me as Buttman because I’m talking from behind the camera a lot of the time. The unique thing I did when I shot my film Buda was that I didn’t use a boom mic. I used the internal VX1000 mic and I knew I had to get 3 or 4 feet away to get really good sound.

Boom guys are always in the way. You actually get better sound on average with the mic on the camera because you’re looking at their face with the camera, whereas a boom guy has to come in from the side. Maybe he can get better sound sometimes, but the trade-off to have one or two more people on set while I’m trying to shoot hurts the vibe. It’s expensive and it doesn’t yield much better sound because you have to be in the action.

Apparently you invented gonzo style porn shooting, where the filmer participates in the action?
Yeah. I am credited with that. The people that shot like that before me were guys like Ugly George in New York in 1981. He had a VHS camcorder on his back and he would pick up girls and have them flash their tits in an alley or something like that, but I don’t think George made it important that the girl looks right into the camera. I did, and that’s the difference.

I got the idea in the late 70s because I had seen this one photo in a magazine where the girl had a dick in her mouth and she was looking right into the camera. The damn thing stood out from a mile away on a rack of adult books. It stayed in my head throughout the 80s and one summer I met a salesmen who said he wanted to do a movie where the camera gets put on a tripod. You would see one couple come out from the side and say, “We’re the Joneses and we wanna make porno movies about our sex.”

That was the key because that’s what Gonzo really is. It’s recognition that there is a camera there and you’re performing for it. It’s intimate, it’s real, and it was huge for porn.

At that time a Betacam, even though it was big and heavy, was completely portable. No wire. So I started filming Gonzo and other people imitated me, mainly with Hi8. I think Rocco Siffredi had a VX1000. Rocco brought [the] VX1000 over to my house in the summer of 1996. I didn’t know it yet but it was a big step forward.

Do people still shoot with VX in porn for the rawness or nostalgia, like filmers do in skateboarding?
No, that got replaced, seriously by the VX2000. The VX1000 and 2000 became the workhorses of the industry, but in the early 2000s the PD150 came out with slightly better quality. That was a professional version of the VX1000 that had XLR inputs.

Overwhelmingly, people click on the best quality and porn is driven by clicks on the internet today. They don’t so much look for moody or arty stuff like in the mainstream movie biz. I like it, you see it sometimes, but the majority of people don’t care about following the mood of a piece, they are looking to get off on image, not filmmaking ideas. Or maybe this is the bitter old man talking and my moody dark Vampire movies were just not good enough. Anyway, not for me to judge. Look at John Leslie’s Fresh Meat. He shot video, probably on a Sony PD150, and he mixed the footage with super 8 film. That movie in 1994 was successful, but I don’t know of anyone in porn today who is successfully doing artsy stuff that does not seek the best quality image.

Who do you, or who does porn, consider to be the best director with a VX1000?
John Leslie used one and he was an art director for my company and won awards. Joey Silvera and Rocco Siffredi too. Come on, all the Italian guys. They all took advantage of this technology.

Independent skate video DVDs still sell in skateboarding. Are DVDs still selling in porn or are they completely dead?
We make like 25-30% of our total gross on a particular movie from DVDs. We maybe have the best sales on average. There is a large market among some crazy people, older people perhaps. I was recently in New York and walked into three or four stores. One or two of which had a good selection of Evil Angel and the other ones didn’t. But we still have movies at these stores and there are still DVDs being sold. I even saw some lonely soul in a video store wandering through the aisles at like 10-10:30 at night. This middle age guy had three DVDs in his hand and was going to buy them, I think! There are always magazines and nobody is looking at them. I don’t know, it’s just weird. It feels very different. The human mind sometimes doesn’t want to change and has certain habits of looking at things in places that are not much worse, necessarily, than the alternatives, but require less of a learning curve. That’s our market. I don’t think there are any young people buying DVDs. Our market is much smaller, it might just be the collectors.

“People’s minds are the same in porn as they are in skating”

In skate videos there used to be more of a story, but now it’s more little bite-sized Instagram clips. Has porn gone that way as well? Is there still a need for stories in porn?
The evolution that happened with the internet is towards shorter viewing. I think that happened for a couple of reasons. The short clip thing you’re talking about does seem to work. But the other really, really big thing, and perhaps the most important thing is there is so much more to look at than ever before. So what you’re missing by taking a long time to look at the exposition and the story, even with skateboarding, you could’ve spent that time clicking on a lot more videos or looking at a lot more tricks. People’s minds are the same in porn as they are in skating.

Tube sites have tapped into this desire to see just the good stuff or just a small clip a user uploaded because they think it’s the best part. That works, as opposed to looking at a whole story and a narrative and a Fashionista movie that goes on for 4 hours and fucking 38 minutes. Why would anyone sit through that anymore?! It’s not the way people consume entertainment, and it changed when good quality videos started in 2005 or when Youtube started. That’s when the internet started delivering 30 frames per second or just about, full screen.

Have you ever seen a guy film the money shot twice in a row because of technical issues or poor camera quality?
Ah! Usually, guys don’t cum twice in a short period of time [laughs]. Although I did just shoot a scene with Xander Corvus and he came twice. It was the first time I was shooting with autofocus because my eyesight is fucking bad and I can’t fucking see anything, but I knew I was slightly out of focus because I was moving around and it caught something else. Also, his cumshot wasn’t perfect, it was okay but it wasn’t good. Then he says, “You know I could cum again.” I was like, “Sure, go ahead!” I wound up using the second cumshot. That is the only time I have ever used the second cumshot in all my years of shooting porn.

Have you ever gotten too close with the wide angle lens and got a little cum on the lens?
We are more worried today about spit and slobber from a messy blowjob getting on the lens. Yes, getting close with the wide angle lens would allow various flying fluids to land on it occasionally. Once I was shooting Fallon in the 80’s. She did an appropriately named movie called Rain Woman for another company. I was getting a low angle reverse cowgirl shot of her sitting on Randy West while he sat on a chair. As she was about to orgasm I decided to change camera angles, just in time! The fountain of fluids that came out of her probably would have shorted out the big camera.

Why isn’t the porn industry thriving if porn is consumed so openly now?
The advent of tubes have changed things so our model of success is different. If you’re a real pornofile and you want to buy DVDs or if you’re that obsessed with porn and you want to join a website to have access to the high-quality delivery system that’s better than the tubesites, that’s our market.

The problem is our marketers compete with each other. We upload 10 or 11 clips ourselves to a tube site like PornHub from a scene that is supposed to drive traffic back to our site. Unfortunately, those clips could be used quite nicely to get someone off and then go back to work in that time [laughs]. That is what has developed and it has changed the world a lot.

The invention of camera phones changed everything too. Now you have a small camera on you at all times, and people that aren’t as skilled with a camera can now make porn and they don’t have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars for good quality. That made our viewing habits totally different. The VX1000 was the first major step in competition with the professional quality videos you could see on television, and now with your phone anyone can make a video and put it on the tube sites. But we’re fighting back. We’ll get better.

Comments

  1. Dontworryaboutit

    October 3, 2017 3:27 pm

    https://www.xvideos.com/video9727132/bobbi_bliss_deepthroat_wesley_pipes_and_others_kik_-_louisree

    ^ Some good Jim Greco and Ali Boulala mini ramp footage in this one..

  2. GLZA

    October 3, 2017 3:52 pm

    I used to work in porn and my first VX, used for skate filming, was an ex-porn camera. It even had a slightly sticky mic when I got it ha ha.

  3. SBTGE2017

    October 3, 2017 11:19 pm

    Very insightful, great read!

  4. thanks guys

    October 4, 2017 3:45 pm

    had to jerk it after reading this one

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